Reflection on The Fate of Empires by Sir John Glubb

The Fate of Empires

This is one of those documents that once again motivates me to continue to learn.  The new set of eyes that learning creates brings a sense of peace about the world.  There is less uncertainty which means there is less fear.  Just as there was comfort in knowing that present time is just an instance in the endless cycle of empires, there was extreme anger about the institutions that we entrust to educate ourselves.  I know they are not perfect.  But forcing me to learn and memorize the names and views of senate electoral candidates of Virginia of 1865, does not compare to learning the life cycle of empires.  Honestly there is no contest as to what is more relevant to someone’s life.  This, and other works like Guns, Germs, and Steel, show the importance of knowing history, and also shows the failures of what is being taught.  There is a same phenomena with science classes.  They focus on the concepts and mathematics of it all, but do not discuss how the scientific method is presented in various experiments.  What was the intrinsic error of the experiment?  What questions are answered with this experiment, and what questions remain?  To me, it is more important to learn the why’s and how’s of history rather than the what’s.

The Fate of Empires is a brief essay laying out the life cycle of an empire.  An empire is defined as a super power of their time.  He brings examples ranging from Persia, Ancient China, to the Ottoman Empire.  In fact, all of his evidence is from eras other than our own era, which makes sense when writing something like this.  This read is a basic read, and should be taught to everyone.

The average lifespan of an empire is 250 years.  The life cycle of an empire is broken down into six ages.  They are:

  1. The Age of Pioneers
  2. The Age of Conquest
  3. The Age of Commerce
  4. The Age of Affluence
  5. The Age of Intellectualism
  6. The Age of Decadence

The age of pioneers are the initial surge for a certain country.  In most cases this is done through military means over a bigger civilization.  The main theory as to why this is, is the pioneers envy the life and riches of the great empire that they hope to overthrow.  They are tired of living their lives, which maybe in oppression by the empire.  So, they surge with courage and dedication to change their lives for the better.

Once a nation state is established, the age of conquest takes fruit.  The conquest is to expand their territory to obtain more resources and power.  Once an adequate amount of territories are under control, the age transitions to the age of commerce.  The main purpose of this era is to create more wealth.  The acquisition of wealth usually takes precedence over everything else.  This is the period of time when values start shifting from the self-sacrifice of the initial pioneers to self-interests.  The age of affluence is next.  The rich become more and more separated from the poor, as more wealth is flaunted for people to see.  People enjoy high standards of living, and more and more people are consuming things in excess rather than what they need.  The age of intellectualism is next.  With the necessities of life no worrisome to a good number of people, the next frontier man attempts to explore is that of mother nature.  Civilizations make advancements in science, philosophy, the arts, and literature just to name a few.  The production of universities and schools drastically increase, and the knowledge is more tailored towards specialized knowledge rather than a breadth of knowledge from various subjects.  Finally, where most of the essay is tailored towards, is the age of decadence.

The age of decadence is the decay of the empire.  It is characterized by defensive minded militaries, decaying morals, lost of religion, frivolous consumption of food, entertainment, sex, and the complete focus of individual interests.  When things tend to get rough, it would be thought that the people would work together to fix the problems, but instead there are schisms in the society that make the resolution of dire problems impossible.  With everyone thinking about themselves, they lack the self-sacrifice and courage needed to defend themselves from collapse internally or from the next age of pioneers.

It is pretty obvious that The United States, the world’s super power, is in the last and final stage, the age of decadence.  When just looking at our practices, it becomes clear that our morals have completely collapsed due to actions of various corporations for their increase in profits.  When debating politics, people constantly look at how their interests are affected rather than taking into account the needs of other people.  Sex is the main theme or method of selling products or services, and there are strip clubs and porn sites.  We consume frivolously on drugs, food (obesity), sex, and entertainment.  We worship celebrities rather than a God or religion.  This all points to a society that is on a verge of collapse.  The United States is scheduled to collapse at around 2030.  The 10 generation time scale is an average, so it is not exact.

So why is it, that this cycle exists?  Why is it the same cycle that occurs so frequently in history?  I honestly think it is the corruption and love of money that totally destroys the sustainability of a society.  The acquisition of wealth tailors people to get more, and to only think for themselves.  When individual interests are the priority, nothing gets resolved.  Governments become corrupt, so they accrue more wealth and power.  When the time comes of the new pioneers, they are unable to act.  I also think the self-interests that is created through money distances man from nature.  This separation from nature is literally a contamination that eats away at the required reasoning, morals, and feelings of complete sustainability.  People that are closer to nature are more prone to survival, and are closer to the habitat that we were evolved to be apart of.  Concepts and philosophies of self-sacrifice, and sustainability are needed to survive.  With survival, we are more prone to follow the path at finding who we are, the essence of man, compared to being isolated in cities gorging ourselves with food, drugs, sex, and entertainment.

The flow system of currency is just like any flow system, and a characteristic of a flow system is that it is hierarchical in nature.  That means, whenever there is currency, there are going to be segments that are wide and thick (lots of money), which in turn gets drained by smaller tributaries to facilitate more flow.  This is why there is always a class system with any society.  And that is always going to be there if currency is involved with any economy.  And considering that I think money is the key factor to this cycle of empire life, I think the removal of money should seriously be considered when constructing a new society.

And, as I have stated throughout this blog, I think a good concept that solves this problem is The Resource Based Economy.  Therefore, a Resource Based Economy would create a new cycle or progression of ages throughout its life cycle.

I really hope people start reading on their own, and educate themselves further than the bullshit schools of our day.  Our educational system is a failure.  I’ve read way more relevant and thought provoking works on my own than in any classroom.  I would skip history in high school to read Guns, Germs, and Steel, which should be a central work when evaluating the history of the Earth.  But in the end, I am at ease of all the failures of our society.  It was predetermined when we decided to use a currency with our economy.  And, as usual, a new set of pioneers will take hold and will most likely enact a currency to handle the scarcity of goods and services, which will make the cycle continue.

“The love of money is the root of all evil.” — The Bible